Today's post is by contributor Susanne Ciancio, LPC
This month I'd like to talk about those stuck areas of our lives that prevent us from feeling like the fully redeemed sons and daughters of the Most High God that we are. I'm talking about those issues that just never seem to get completely resolved like bad temper, lateness, irritability, weight issues, fears, procrastination, insecurities, depression, anxiety, and chronic relationship issues.
These areas of stuckness keep us going around in circles because they
seem like symptoms we need to fix. Possibly we want some behavior modification
or group therapy to get some help and support in these areas. Not a bad idea in
itself, but what if we've been working on these issues for 5, 10, 15 years
or more? We know God has the power, love, and willingness to help us. We
know the power of the cross is sufficient for ALL of our stuff...yet symptoms
persist, problems recycle. What's a sister to do?
Last summer, I came across the best resource I've found in years. It is a DVD series called, Foundations of Freedom. The speaker/author is Bob Hamp who is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and a minister at Gateway Church in Texas.
The crux of this series about our freedom in Christ is this:
1). It's not what's in front of me that counts (flat tire, family problem, financial struggles, health issues, marital conflict, etc.), i
voice I listen to
about what’s going on. Who is
informing me about how I should think, feel, and act in regard to my troubling
situation? What's the source of the inner direction I receive? Is
it the Lord Himself or is it some other
source, like myself, the world, or the enemy of my soul? Am I relying on myself
to discern good from evil or have I surrendered my will to the Lord's?
If I get a flat tire on the way to a speaking engagement, I may hear the voice in my head saying, "Of course, this kind of stuff only happens to me at crucial times like this. I can't believe this!! When am I going to get a break?" Or as Bob Hamp teaches, if I tune in to The Life of Christ within I might hear a very soothing message telling me, "Call AAA, trust Me. I'll get you there on time." I guess it depends on what voice I'm practiced at tuning in to. The first voice is the voice of the victim within, maybe a voice I grew up listening to, and the default tape that gets popped in without my even noticing when things go wrong for me. And the other voice is the voice of the Lord Himself giving me the guidance and direction I so desire…but in my panic, don’t usually know is available.
2). The only thing God wants me to concern myself with is being rightly related to Him...moment-by-moment, situation-by-situation! When Adam ate from the wrong tree he lost his innate ability to truly know and perceive from God's standpoint. We go on automatic pilot when we’re stressed, anxious, angry, or depressed. From there, some people will go into fix it mode, some people fall apart, some shut down, and some go into blame mode. Automatic pilot takes over and that can be very bad. Instead, we need to practice the discipline of abiding (See John 15:1-7) by stepping back, taking a deep breath, and remembering who I am and whose I am. I then trust that God knows how to work my situation out.
The Wrong Tree
When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, an egregious consequence was set into motion. But it wasn't what we’ve thought it was: God wasn't so angry that He wanted to throw them out of the garden for breaking a rule. What happened was far deeper. Adam was a human being that was fully alive to the Holy Spirit. He was in a living, breathing relationship with God. He could perceive life itself and could see knowledge.
When Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge he lost his "aliveness" to God.
Now he had to do what we all attempt to do: Figure out from his limited abilities what is good and what is not good. He became his own source, whereas he used to be fully connected to the Only Source of wisdom and truth. He also had to figure out ways to feel alive because what Adam lost was remarkably significant. (This is where addictions and compulsions come in. It feels pretty empty and bad to lose that "alive" feeling. Humans are so much about grabbing something or someone to make us feel alive. Addictions make us feel falsely or temporarily alive.)
Next month I'll continue to talk about how this series can help us get unstuck and I'll include testimony from a couple of dear friends who bought the series and are enjoying the victory! Meanwhile if your appetite is whet and you want to find out more about the series you can watch a 30-minute teaching entitled, The Problem Jesus Came to Solve here.
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.
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